Bipartisan Digital Coast Act Passes Commerce Committee

Legislation aids shoreline communities by delivering next generation coastal data 

Passed the Senate unanimously in the 114th Congress

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK), passed the Senate Commerce Committee. The Digital Coast Act will help shoreline communities along the Great Lakes and ocean coasts better prepare for storms, cope with varying water levels and strengthen economic development efforts.  Following today’s action the bill is ready for consideration by the full Senate.  

The senators previously introduced the Digital Coast Act in the 114th Congress, and it passed the Senate unanimously last fall. 

“Wisconsin’s Great Lakes are a great asset for our quality of life and also for our long-term economic security,” said Senator Baldwin. “I’m proud of the progress we are making in moving bipartisan reforms forward to strengthen our shoreline communities, which face a variety of challenges to keep their harbors open, their waters clean and their beaches ready for visitors. This bipartisan bill ensures that our Great Lakes communities have the resources and tools they need to adapt to changing environmental conditions, maintain healthy shores, and make smart planning decisions to support their local economies and way of life.”

“I am so pleased to see movement forward on this valuable tool that can be used by Alaskans across the state to aid in emergency preparedness for storms and coastal erosion, and private, public and commercial development projects.  This data is not only important for improving our knowledge of our coasts, but it is critical for safety reasons as well,” said Senator Murkowski. “We still have a long way to go in completing mapping and surveying Alaska, both inland and along our coasts, and this legislation will help to prioritize Alaska and the Arctic as critical areas that must be mapped.”

“Coastal communities are integral to the health of New Jersey’s economy, and these communities rely on relevant, accurate data to make critical economic and safety decisions,” said Senator Booker “Today’s committee vote brings this important bill one step closer to ensuring that Jersey Shore communities have the information and tools they need to improve disaster planning and resiliency while making smart infrastructure investments.”

“Alaskans, living in a state that is home to more ocean coastline than the rest of the United States combined, have an acute appreciation of the need to accurately map our coastlines, both for civic and commercial planning purposes and preparing for weather emergencies,” said Senator Sullivan. “I appreciate my colleagues from both sides of the aisle, and very different corners of our country, for coming together to address challenges and seize opportunities common to our states, giving our constituents more tools and knowledge to help our coastal communities thrive.”

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) currently assembles and hosts the Digital Coast Project, a collaborative online database of the most up-to-date coastal information, and makes it available to both the public and private sectors. Digital Coast also provides tools for coastal communities to decipher and use the high-tech mapping data to make accurate decisions and smart investments in their communities.

The Digital Coast Act authorizes the next phase in coastal mapping at NOAA by ensuring that communities will continue to have the data to make smart choices for economic development, shoreline management and coastal restoration. The Act supports further development of the current project, including increasing access to uniform, up-to-date data to help communities get the information they need to respond to emergencies, plan for long-term coastal resilience, and manage their water resources.

The Digital Coast Act is supported by: American Planning Association, Association of State Floodplain Managers, Coastal States Organization, MAPPS, National Association of Counties, National Estuarine Research Reserve Association, National Society of Professional Surveyors, National States Geographic Information Council, The Nature Conservancy, Ayers Associates, Continental Mapping Consultants, and Quantum Spatial.

Read what supporters have said about the Digital Coast Act here.